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Cooper Says GOP Should Slow Down On Controversial Constitutional Amendments


Voters in North Carolina this fall will decide plenty of high stakes elections for local, state, and federal offices.  But that might only be the half of it – as several proposed amendments to the state constitution may also come before voters.

As the General Assembly wraps up its work for the year, several proposed amendments are before lawmakers.  Democratic governor Roy Cooper wishes the General Assembly would slow down with some of the more controversial amendments that put he and Republican legislative leaders at odds.  Speaking in Asheville Tuesday afternoon, the governor said too little time for analysis is being left for amendments that would mandate photo ID to vote, capping the state income tax rate, and changing appointment powers to the board that oversees elections in North Carolina.  “The language (of these amendments) is confusing," Cooper said after speaking to the Western Regional Service Alliance's Summer Leadership Conference.  "And there needs to be more time spent on these kinds of constitutional amendments, which are always serious.”

The proposed amendment mandating photo identification to vote cleared the House Monday night by a 74-43 vote.  Tuesday the House OK'd the amendment that would change appointment powers for the state board of ethics and elections enforcement (the General Assembly would choose all 8 members under the plan) by a 74-44 vote.  Both now head to the Senate.  The amendment capping the state income tax level at 5.5% (currently the rate sits at 5.499%) was pulled from the House floor Tuesday when lawmakers were prepared to vote on it.  Governor Cooper during his Asheville stop stated his belief that there were not enough votes to pass that measure.  Another proposed constitutional amendment, this one giving the General Assembly the power to appoint judges to finish terms of vacated seats, passed the Senate Monday.

The two proposed constitutional amendments that have cleared both chambers so far are less controversial, and have received at least some bipartisan support.  One expands notification rights for victims of crime, while the other “forever preserves for the public good” the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in North Carolina. 

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.